I'm staking a claim too...

Royal families the world over have claimed legitimacy to the throne as a divine right, not least in Europe where the Roman Catholic Church chose to meddle in the affairs of state by the power vested in it. The Bourbons addressed Louis XIV with the epithet ‘Sun God’. Ancient Egyptians maintained a close relationship with Ra. The Incas believed the sun to be an ancestor. But direct kinship to the sun belonged in India, where his descendants included the good king Harishchandra, followed some generations later by Dashrath, whence starts the Ramayan. Dashrath’s son Ram was the progenitor of the twins Luv and Kush whose own children went on to rule parts of India. 

I am no historian, or mythologian, but even so I have not come across dynastic claimants of Lakshman, Bharat or Shatrughan, though they too must exist. But of appellants to Ram’s lineage, there are several, Suryavanshis all, of whom the Sisodias are primus inter pares. The Chittaur rulers of Mewar (more recently to be found in Udaipur) believe themselves sprung from Luv, who went on to establish Luvkote, the earlier name for Lahore, now in Pakistan. The sun may have been bountiful in their kingdom but was not always benevolent, causing them generations of hardship under Mughal rule, but the spirit of the Sisodias did not break. The sun that set over Empire shone brightly over their neck of the woods. 

Kush, in turn, went on to establish his lineage by way of the Kachchawas, whose leading dynastic claimants ruled most recently from Amber and Jaipur, and did well by themselves. True, they were warriors, but they seemed to have dabbled in real estate as well — the land on which the Taj Mahal in Agra is built was part of their estate, as apparently was Ramkot in Ayodhya where they ordered a Ram temple. Princess Diya Kumari, an MP in the current dispensation, reports that her father was the 309th descendant of Kush, while Maharana Arvind Singh Mewar is the 232nd descendant of Luv. The Mewar Sisodias appear to have been blessed with a longevity not given to the Amber Kachchawas. Meanwhile, counter-claims to Luv’s progeny from Alwar have emerged. One may concede Diya Kumari’s assertion that there are millions of descendants — and admirers — of Ram, but a case is being made about “direct” lineage. 

In 21st-century India, Ayodhya aside, do such incredulous claims matter? In Bikaner recently to address some security concerns, I met senior officials from republican India appointed through a civil competition system. The one assigned to our case made it clear that he was “privileged” to proceed with his official duties having established, through rigorous questioning, that we were, indeed, offspring of the sun. 

History may have served our family well, but we are serving it somewhat poorly. For some recent rituals in the clan, I found it difficult to recall the names of our great-grandfathers, leave alone their forebears of a few hundred generations. Of grannies, alas, our knowledge remains poorer still. However, as a member of the House of Kachchawas, I’m staking a claim too — not to Ayodhya or the Ram temple, as my hugely distant cousins have already declared, but to a slice of antiquity and a smidgeon of respect. As Ram’s descendant, however ambiguously, I demand it in his name.



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